My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Happy Pentecost Day to all of you! As you know Pentecost is the “birthday” of the Church, so this is a wonderful day for all of us.
So maybe at some point we should sing Happy Birthday. Well maybe not today.
Today we especially rejoice in the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation for all of you, our brothers and sisters, at our Cathedral parish.
To you, my dear brothers and sisters, receiving the Holy Spirit sacramentally, let me say — as I always do— that today, you are asked by the Church to be faithful to the teachings of Christ.
But also, you renew your decision to belong to the Catholic Church. You are here because you want to, so voluntarily — because you want to — you are saying yes to Jesus, to God the Father and the Holy Spirit as you come today.
So it is a very special moment in your Christian life, so that’s why you are in our prayers in a very special way today. So congratulations to you all!
We are also rejoicing with all our brothers and sisters from El Salvador. Many of them traveled back to San Salvador where there was a beautiful ceremony yesterday for the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero.
Pope Francis said, in a letter to the Archbishop of San Salvador, that Archbishop Romero’s beatification is a cause for great joy for the Salvadoran people and for those that rejoice by the example of the best children of the Church.
Archbishop Romero, who built peace with the strength of love, gave witness to the faith with his life, given to this dream.
So we’ll rejoice with them and this universal church on his beautification.
Today’s passage of the Gospel is a beautiful scene from the Gospel of John. The scene is Sunday evening, just one week after the Resurrection, and even though the doors are locked and the apostles are frightened, Jesus comes to stand in the midst of his apostles. Jesus comes to be with them.
They cannot believe their eyes, they are so happy. And as we heard, Jesus shows them his resurrected body — the wounds in his hands and his sides. Then the Gospel tells us that:
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
So the coming of the Holy Spirit makes the Church and gives the Church her mission. This mission is not only for the Church’s institutions. Or just for priests, bishops and religious. The Church’s mission is our mission — all of us.
So, my brothers and sisters, Pentecost tells that when Jesus comes into our lives, he brings joy and peace, as he did with the Apostles. But he also brings to us the gifts of his Holy Spirit.
This is what Baptism is and what Confirmation is. Every Baptism and every Confirmation is kind of like a little Pentecost — a personal Pentecost, the Holy Spirit coming upon us and especially today you received the Holy Spirit sacramentally just as the Apostles received the Spirit on Pentecost day.
It’s wonderful. It’s an amazing grace receiving the Holy Spirit. And for us, the point is this: Jesus gives us his spirit for a reason, and that reason is the mission of the Church. Just like in the Gospel today, Jesus gives each of us his spirit and he sends us out to bear witness to him.
So Jesus is saying to each one of us: As the father has sent me, so I’m sending you. All of us, each one of us.
You know, when you think about the Apostles, what they did once they received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, and they totally changed the World!
My dear brothers and sisters, that’s our mission. It’s awesome! It’s wonderful! It’s exciting!
Just think of how excited the Apostles were and how excited we should be just thinking of how beautiful it is that we are called personally to be missionary disciples.
So we are sent by Jesus to reveal God to our neighbors. To show them God’s mercy through our own works of mercy.
And as we all know, the only way to be able to do it – the only way to really become missionary disciples — is to have a close friendship with Jesus Christ.
So let’s make the resolution today, to get to know Jesus better. For that we obviously need to learn more about his life. And we do that by reading the Gospels and talking to him in prayer. Just as we make friends, exactly the same. We need to know his life.
Pope Francis says that we all should have a little pocket Gospel book. And I like to say that the Gospels are Jesus’ “Facebook page.” Isn’t it? What’s in the Facebook page that you all have? Or some of you have? I have one, check it out, it’s pretty good. And when you do, say “I like it.”
In any Facebook page is pictures of where you go, of where you’ve been, your family and friends.
That’s what the Gospels are all about. So we need to find the time to read the Gospels, at least for a few minutes every day. And then, talking to Jesus. Getting up in the morning and thanking Jesus for another day. Or when we have a difficult situation asking Jesus, “Jesus help me.”
Just having a conversation with Jesus all day long.
So, we need that close friendship with Jesus. But we can also count, especially you today receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a teacher that is never tired of teaching us — always there to help us. And the gifts of the Holy Spirit are going to help you to make the right decisions in life — wisdom and understanding, good judgment, courage.
Those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit make a huge difference in our lives when we are open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
So, Pentecost challenges all of us to take responsibility for the mission of the Church.
So this week and from now on, let us especially feel the joy of being missionary disciples. Let us pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to really feel the Spirit working in our lives.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, who was there at that first Pentecost — who is here with each one of you especially as you receive the Sacrament of Confirmation — help us to be true apostles — missionary disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Readings (Pentecost, Year B): Acts 2:1-11; Ps. 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23.